Imagine about 150 Guatemalans coming across the western border, crossing freely without any passport. Well it happened yesterday - and it's been happening for years. Belize did just recently sign a bi lateral agreement with Guatemala for the exchange of casual labor, but the treaty only makes official what has been the practice for very long time. Guatemalans dominate the citrus industry's workforce, and with the picking season about to start they've started streaming in. This cell phone picture was captured yesterday and we asked Immigration minister Hulse about it today:..

Jules Vasquez
"Sir 150 citrus workers came across just yesterday morning. How the system works, I know it always work before and after the treaty, is that they don't have any passports. Somebody just comes with their names on a list, their work permits are approved and they come across. That's how it works."

Hon. Godwin Hulse, Minister of Immigration
"The fact of the matter is that anybody who comes have 3 months. If they don't have a passport, because many people only have cellular. If they don't have a passport, they have 3 months within which to get one. They cannot come back a repeat employee without a passport. That is what we have put in when we started to monitor this in detail. As you know previously they would just go and come and some of them were here 5-6 years without any documentation. Three months is the term we gave and the reason why we made that concession is that the citrus people claimed they we would be closing down their business, they wouldn't be able to get pickers etc."

"Declare clearly persons who we need to hire because we can't find Belizeans and they will come only as seasonal workers. That is banana and citrus as far as we are concern at this time."

We also asked Hulse about the status of Acting Director of Immigration Maria Marin. She's been on leave for over a month, and it has led to rumors that she is being phased out in favour of liaison officer Edmund Zuniga. Today the Minister said as long as he's there, she'll be there:..

Jules Vasquez
"Will Ms. Maria Marin be back as acting director of immigration?"

Hon. Godwin Hulse, Minister of Immigration
"Ms. Maria is on leave, not anything to do with her position. I can categorically say there is no change. She has more than 71 days accumulated and you know public officers can't accumulate more than that, so she has to take some leave. She comes back on the 15th. Mr. Zuniga has not taken over. Mr. Zuniga is a liaison officer that I brought in last year, he is there now about 11 months to be able to help me with a whole lot of issue with immigration and also in labor and that's what he does. He sits in my office actually."

Jules Vasquez
"Sir, are you under pressure to replace Ms. Marin? We know that the office of director of immigration is a hot office because, (we have to be straight up) certain people have to make money through that office. That's real. And that isn't because UDP is in or PUP is in. That's how it has always operated and perhaps she is seen by some as an impediment to hasty business. Are you under pressure to replace her for that reason?"

Hon. Godwin Hulse, Minister of Immigration
"I don't think the Prime Minister is about to replace me. You can ask him. And I don't think Ms. Marin will go as long as I am there."

Channel 7